Fr. Shenan J. Boquet: Be Relevant, Be Counter-Cultural

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Ordination of Father Thomas Mary of Jesus, Carmelite, by Cardinal Raymond Burke in Harrisburg PA, 2019 – Photocredit:

By Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, Human Life International, August 19, 2019

Sign of Hope

If you listened to certain Catholic thinkers and apologists, you’d think that the most urgent task facing the Church is to figure out ways to become more “relevant.” Especially when it comes to the youth. We need more “youth masses” with rock bands and hip, joke-cracking priests; more retreats and conferences filled with fun games, good food, and diverting entertainment; more slick websites and marketing materials; less overt religious symbolism, like cassocks on priests, or habits on religious sisters, which are “clerical” and “alienating” for the youth; and, above all, way, way less talk about morality, especially sexual morality.

There are so many things that are wrong with this kind of thinking that it’s hard to know where to begin. But if I were to make one point, it would be simply this: it hasn’t worked. Not even a little bit. Since the 1960s, when this “strategy” (if it can be called that) was launched in a big way, things have gotten worse on just about every possible metric by which we could gauge the health of the Church. We have way fewer Catholics attending weekly Mass, plummeting vocations, plummeting catechetical knowledge, widespread dissent from even the most basic moral teachings, and a huge rise in young people who identify as “nones” – i.e., who adhere to no specific religion.

Video: Courtesy of Donjojohannes/Kathmedia on Youtube (Go to

The dismal state of the Church in the U.S. was illustrated recently by the truly discouraging findings of a Pew Research poll. That poll found that fully 69% of self-described Catholics believe during Holy Mass that the bread and wine used for Holy Communion are just “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” In other words, seven out of ten Catholics do not believe in one of the single most central tenets of the Catholic faith – that during Holy Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. Ouch. ….